Pink Floyd are a band that it feels particularly wrong to strip back. The quartet of Roger Waters, David Gilmour, Richard Wright and Nick Mason spent so much time delicately adding layers upon sonic texture that to unravel these threads feels almost perverse. However, in doing so, there’s one song in which we can really investigate the beating heart of the track by focusing only on the isolated vocals — the classic song, ‘Another Brick in the Wall Pt. II’.
One of the band’s most famous numbers, it doesn’t spend a lot of time at the bottom of ‘best of’ lists. Taken from the band’s most beloved album The Wall, another concept record built on the foundations of rock opera, ‘Another Brick in the Wall Pt. II’ is a classic and deserves revisiting whenever one can. The protest anthem has since become a massive song across the global introducing millions of people to Pink Floyd. While the entire record is the stuff of legend, the song hangs on the band’s intrinsic instrumentation and one of their most powerful vocals.
Written by Roger Waters, in our minds, this may well be the very distillation of what makes Waters such a pillar of the music and artistic community. Of course, a pivotal moment in Waters’ Pink Floyd career, The Wall is the musician at his most personal and there is no more shining crowning moment than ‘Another Brick in the Wall’.
It sees our protagonist, Pink, continue to build a wall of division to isolate himself from the scary world that surrounds him. The entire song reminds us of the incredible talent behind Waters’ creation, something that now may feel a little bit old hat was a bonafide rock revolution when it was first delivered. The song and the album have become a part of Pink Floyd iconography and a vital part in the history of many nations. It would be remiss to not see this as a crucial moment in the band’s iconography.
But the thing that really sold this song, in particular, was not the luscious instrumentation or the demonstration of sonic authority, it was the words at play. Deliberately designed as a protest anthem, the song soon caught real-life protester’s attention as it became an anthem for apartheid South Africa. Something which undoubtedly came about thanks to the simple yet powerful vocal performance.
Though it is Waters’ voice we hear, first of all, it is the eventual use of a children’s choir that really seals the deal on the vital importance of hearing the vocals isolated. With the music removed, the song plays out like an avant-garde theatre piece, imbued with Waters’ unbreakable message of unity against the oppressors of the world.
With that in mind, it is more than worth a moment of your time as we listen back to Roger Waters’ isolated vocals on Pink Floyd’s classic song ‘Another Brick in the Wall Pt. II’.